Bladder cancer doesn’t get the attention that some cancers do, though it isn’t rare. In 2019, an estimated 80,000 new cases will be diagnosed.
Finding blood in your urine can be a stressful experience. Here’s why it happens and what you should do
There are many different reasons why this happens, but it’s important not to panic.
Blood in the urine can present in one of two ways:
- gross hematuria (blood that you can see in the urine)
- microscopic hematuria (blood that is only seen when the urine is examined under a microscope).
Both types can have serious causes.
Is blood in the urine a symptom of bladder cancer?
The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. In many patients diagnosed with bladder cancer, blood in the urine is the first symptom, and it may be the only symptom that some patients experience. Around 80% to 90% of patients diagnosed with bladder cancer have this symptom.
Are there other possible causes of blood in urine?
If you notice that there is visible blood in your urine, it does not automatically mean that you have bladder cancer. In fact, there are several other non-cancerous causes of blood in the urine.
Common reasons for blood in the urine
Typical causes (for both men and women) may relate to:
- Urinary tract — most likely an infection (UTI) or urinary stone disease
- Kidneys — typically kidney stones or kidney disease
- Inherited conditions, including sickle cell disease
- Vigorous exercise
- Medications such as aspirin or blood thinners
Certain medications can also cause blood in the urine, such as aspirin or other medications that thin the blood. Foods and drinks that contain certain ingredients can temporarily change the color of your urine. These include artificial dyes, beets & blackberries.
Though blood in the urine most often comes from a benign condition, it also can signal bladder or kidney cancer
Is blood in urine always visible?
When bladder cancer is at an early stage, it can cause blood in the urine but it might not cause any other symptoms, such as pain, burning, or other urinary symptoms. Sometimes patients diagnosed with bladder cancer, especially if it is at an early stage, may only have blood in their urine occasionally.
Even if you do not notice blood in the urine occasionally or very often, it is important to let your healthcare provider know about the symptom.
Who is at Risk for Bladder Cancer?
Several factors can increase the odds of developing cancer of the bladder:
- Bladder cancer is about 4 times as common in men as in women.
- Racial background. Bladder cancer is more common in white Americans. Asian-Americans have the lowest rates.
- People who smoke tobacco are diagnosed with bladder cancer twice as often as those who don’t smoke.
- Occupational exposures. People who work in jobs handling paint, dyes, rubber, leather and textiles have an increased risk of bladder cancer.
- Age. As with many cancers, the likelihood of developing bladder cancer goes up as you age. Most diagnoses are in people over 55.
Spotting the Signs:
The first sign of bladder cancer is usually blood in the urine. The urine may look orange or pink. Usually, that bleeding is painless, and it may come and go.
Other symptoms can include:
- Frequent urination
- A feeling of having to urinate, even when your bladder isn’t full
- Pain or discomfort during urination
- Difficulty urinating
- Weight loss, fatigue or low back pain (in advanced disease)
By the time symptoms appear, cancer might have spread outside your bladder to another part of your body, If you have any suspicious symptoms, get a referral to a oncologist or urologist for a work-up.
IS WOMEN ALSO HAS SAME RISK OF BLADDER CANCER?
Let’s look at women’s risk, for instance. Bladder cancer is less common in women, but those who develop the disease are often diagnosed at more advanced stages, when it is harder to treat.
One reason that women tend to be diagnosed later might be because of significant delays in the diagnosis. Women might ignore signs of blood in the urine, assuming it’s because of their menstrual period, a bladder infection, or a urinary tract infection (UTI).
How is blood in the urine treated?
Treatment depends on the cause. In some cases the origin is not serious, and treatment may not be necessary. If the cause is kidney stones, your doctor may tell you to take pain relievers and drink plenty of water to help pass the stone; sometimes surgery to relieve the blockage is needed. For urinary tract infections, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics for up to two weeks. If it’s cancer, early treatment has a chance of a good outcome.
Dr. Vimalathithan, Surgical oncologist says : Blood in the urine does not always mean you have bladder cancer. Often it is caused by non-cancerous lesion. Blood in your urine could be a sign of bladder cancer or kidney cancer & he stresses the importance of getting in to see your family doctor immediately if you see even a trace of blood in your urine. “Cancers can bleed just one time and not again,”
Early detection makes it easier to treat. Seeing your doctor could save your life.
This is because, should it be cancer, a delay in treatment greatly compromises the cure rate.